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Romney 23, Obama 11, U.s. 11, Matt 10, Jim 10, Stuart 8, Eric 8, Florida 7, Perry 6, Dr. Paul 5, Rick Perry 5, Beth 5, Iowa 5, South Carolina 5, Gingrich 4, Washington 4, Ohio 4, Syria 4, Illinois 4, United States 4,
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  CSPAN    Today in Washington    News/Business. News.  

    February 22, 2013
    6:00 - 8:59am EST  

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>> in reality, campaigns become 10 times more complicated when we zoom out and analyze all the factors that are required on a national scale. it is an understatement said that running a presidential campaign is one of the most difficult feats in the american political system. the speakers are expert industry. in alphabetical order these are our speakers. david axelrod start his career in political journalism but shifted to political consulting in the mid '80s and went on to become a key strategist for the 2008 obama campaign. his role in 2011 when he became
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senior strategist the 2012 reelection campaign. guestco is the founder and institute director for the university of chicago institute of policy. eric fehrnstrom began as a reporter for the "boston herald." after working for marketing and advertising firm, he became the then current governor mitt romney's communications director and was most recently a topic and strategist for the romney presidential campaign. larry grisolano has been both campaigning for the past 30 years and has been a leading tactician for some of the most important political battles the democratic party both in the 2008 and 2012 elections, he served as director of paid media for president obama's campaign. jim messina start his career as a college senior and quickly rose to prominence in campaigns across the country. he became president obama's deputy chief of staff or operations in 2009 and went on
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to become the manager of obama's reelection campaign in 2012. beth myers started with the reagan camp in 1980 and has been in politics ever since. she worked with governor romney census 2010 campaigned for the governorship when she served as his chief of staff and was most recently a top adviser for the romney campaign, for the presidency. she's this weeks one of the inaugural fellows for the institute of politics. jen o'malley-dillon was quickly from being an advocate in college to career working on several democratic campaigns over the years. in 2008 she served as the battleground states director for the obama campaign, and was a deputy campaign manager for his successful bid. matthew rhoades has been a lead strategist for the republican national committee and was a research analyst for the rnc in the 2000 election. he was director of opposition research for the 2004 bush campaign and was governor romney's campaign manager for the 2012 election.
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stuart stevens has gone on to help elect more governors and senators than any other current republican media consultant. and has also worked on campaigns overseas. he was involved in immediate imagamateur romney to the eightd served as senior strategy, senior strategist for romney's presidential campaign in 2012. finally, our moderator but tonight, chuck todd, an innocent extensive expense in journalism as an editor, political director for nbc news and as an on air political analyst. his current role as chief white house correspondent has given him a fewer than base. tonight's panel will cover the 2012 election and campaigns on a macro level and will shed light on what went right, what went wrong and what went unexpectedly. we would like to especially thank strategist from governor romney's campaign for giving our institutions the privilege to hosting them. the caliber and expertise of tonight's guest is extraordinary
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and it's a true honor to be able to introduce them all for what is sure to be a truthful and enlightening discussion. ladies and gentlemen, i would like to thank you for coming and would ask that you join me in welcoming our distinguished guests. [applause] >> am i supposed to begin? so, i'm a little concerned, eight people, 90 minutes, and then as i think matt said to me, it's like another republican debate last night eight people in 90 minutes.
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so, you know, we will do our best. doing my admonished you guys in the beginning. don't take up too much time on answers. we want to hear from everybody. i want to begin with the thing a most curious about is sort of when does somebody decide to run for president, how does that conversation take place. i want to start with stuart, and when did you have the conversation with governor romney and said okay, i'm in? a lot of us assume he had been running for president the whole time, but when did he decide to run? and when did he tell you and when was it clear? >> i think it's a great misconception that he planned to run immediately afterwards. i think it's -- his assumption was that the economy continued
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to improve our would improve and i think running and losing in '08 was very liberating for him. and he found that he could be very happy. we kept talking around it, you know, we had a very busy, he wanted to talk about it. we had a very busy 2010 client schedule, in a very mitt romney way he said finally, well, on election day 2010, you can do anything for your clients, why don't we meet on election day 2010? i said, okay, i can do that. so my partner and i met him in boston at his condo on election
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day 2010. and that was a thing when i got a sense that he was really intending to run. it was serious before but i got the sense he definitely was going to run. >> david, covering the white house, i got the sense that you guys thought you were running against mitt romney. you always sort of viewed mitt romney as the face of the republican party. is that an unfair -- >> no. in fact, the president and i after the 2008 election, we were musing about the future, and he asked me who i thought the nominee in 2012 would become and i submit romney. and i said it because i knew we were headed into an economic maelstrom, and i have, i spoke earlier to a group about opposite theory of presidential races, that people tend to -- soar the antithesis of who is there.
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so romney, his background and so on, seemed like the kind of person who could emerge from that, most likely. the thing is that election on election day of 2010, you know, that election sort of altered my thinking slightly. i still thought you would be the nominee. it was clear to me that day that there were forces destroyed the republican party that we're going to really control the nominating process, and it was going to be challenging for any nominee to navigate those forces, and that they were going to have to make some difficult choices. in order to be the nominee. so there was an element of doubt, but i always thought romney was the likely guide. >> beth and eric, was there every time you thought he wasn't going to do it? >> yeah, i mean, he had a really relaxing 2009, and i'm not sure i ever what it gone and said
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he's not going to do it, but she had a health scare, and whatever -- i think 2009 was, you know, who knows? he enjoyed riding the boat. a time that i came to think that he was most likely to run was, it was right after, when he sat down with eric and said we need to get another person of your, let's talk to matt wrote. when he said he went to meet matt rhodes at the boston, i thought that was a pretty good indication that he was very specific about running. that was 2010. >> i was with governor romney in 2008 when he withdrew from the presidential campaign. and on the plane back to boston, he was very busy trying to arrange people's lives. he did not sound like a person
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who was plotting another run. in fact, he seemed exhausted by politics. but then there were developments that happen, not only in the race but chris christie victory in new jersey, bob mcdonnell victory in virginia, seemed like republicans were on the march. quickly on defense particularly on issues related to the economy which were deteriorating and i think mitt felt and said so in his announcement speech in 2011 that he was compelled to get involved because he felt he had something to offer with respect to his skills on jobs and the economy. that's what he got in a. was very precise moment when -- >> lights which went on? >> i don't think so. it's a process. that happens over time. there are a number of married
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factors that get taken into account, but certainly by the time, as beth said, matt came up to take over, we knew he was moving in that direction. >> jim, you are in the white house and have always that with a lot of congressional politics, what was your, did you find yourself obsessively following romney, following the presidential -- date inside the white house when you guys had this discussion? >> i think david had it right. we assume for a very long time is going to be romney. every friday we would rank a republican from one to 10 and romney never went below number one. we always viewed him. and 2010 you could see him make the steps, pack money, and i thought the book was really good and smartly done. you could tell we thought he had made a decision he was going and
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he would be a formidable candidate. david is right, we did look at each other on the gruesome night et cetera so, and mitt romney get to this primary is the primary tended to be longer than we thought woul it would be butt was a real quest for a while of could he get through it. >> matt, what's an interview like with mitt romney? so you're being interviewed for a job for romney campaign, and did you interview him and what were some of his questions for you? >> well, the first time that the governor called within, february 2010, right around the period when washington was going to those brutal snowstorms. even more than chicago has today. and it really wasn't and india as much to run his campaign at that point in time. he was asking whether not covered, up into the pac. and he was talking about taking it up a notch. and sometimes it's more
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important, presidential campaigns are a little different than other campaigns. i think everyone would agree on this stage. you go this period when you're thinking about running, and that's almost more important than a day that you finally come to conclusion and say i'm going to run. he really wanted to kick it up a notch, and see what the landscape was going to hold. and he had his book that he was just about to rollout. so i came up right about that time, and he asked me that day. i think i gave him, yeah, when someone offers you something if you like get sick let me think about overnight. i can't imagine any other answer would give them the next day when i told him that. the next day we were off and running. it kind of progress, it just happened. by the time i became campaign manager i don't know that mitt and i ever sat down at a formal interview. >> suddenly you were hiring people? >> it just kind of happened.
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>> david and jim, when did you guys go into reelected mode? in some form or another? >> well, you know, i would have to say that it was sort of a sensation of hitting bottom that got us going. >> 2010 election? >> no. the debt ceiling fight was -- we obviously, there were talks given to the reelect -- [talking over each other] >> binding, the thing kicked into high gear. that's when everybody, jim was putting the mechanisms in place. jen was putting the mechanisms in place. we were doing the early things that had to be done, but i think everyone got very, very focused at least on the metrics i. that was a line of demarcation, that debt ceiling fight. our numbers were as bad as they
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were throughout the whole presidency. there was, you know, the predecessors in washington work pouring around, and our folks were nervous. you know, and it was clear that we were now in a situation where we had to fight and we had to pull out of the nosedive we were in. >> i was just going to say the mechanism. >> the mechanisms, there were some mechanical things that had to be done. one of the things we knew was they were going to the big primary and we would have time to put things in motion while they were busy that would ultimately we down to our benefit in terms of organization. >> when did you guys start operationally? just partly future, when do you have to start those things? >> i was at the dnc for '09 and 10 so a lot of the work was building the foundation of what we knew would come for the reelect.
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so while it wasn't a permanent campaign, the a lot of cities that were under the radar, building on some of the internal polling that we did, really honing our 50 state strategy and having all the states in training our volunteers and giving us something to do to empower them in an offer that it president norman hasn't done. all of those things started pretty quickly after the president won his first election, and we build off about. >> when were you having to sort of build this? >> i showed up in april on a full-time basis, and we really started, and this was at david's insistence, we started very early april, may doing some very intensive research to try to get a handle on what people were thinking out there. this was before the debt ceiling stuff, but we knew that people were we of the economy. and it was a weary electorate. we really wanted to sort of see how we fit in, see how they were
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following what was going on on the other side. so by the time the debt ceiling it, we had a pretty good sense of the landscape and what, sort of what our way was to kind of move. the dead sea was really a moment at which we were kind of galvanized the sort of cohesion to move forward on some of the things we have been learning over the summer. >> stewart, what was your something about what the primary was going to be about before the announcement? you guys were preparing the announcement speech. the public and media don't understand how important they are. everybody come you go back to obama's announcement speech in '07 and it lays out his messaging campaign. so what were your assumptions, you're working on that, as the governor is working on that? >> that's a good question. we talk about this a lot, beth and eric and matt. and peter was very involved in
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that. we had a premise that we were going to have an announcement speech that you could give a day before the general election. that was our goal, and we studied of the ones. beth went and dragged it up the reagan announced that speech, and we used it as sort of a model, one that was successful, model of the speech that president reagan, candidate reagan could have given the day before, this was in 80, the general election. so we always believed that we had to force the primary to be about the economy, and that mitt romney was going to be the candidate of the economy, and to be met from you have to beat him on the economy. and so every candidate was going to have to post up and have to trump him on that, and we were fairly confident that no candidate would be able to do
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that. and that's the process of the primary was going to be resting on who is best suited to defeat barack obama and to face barack obama. not in an electability since been a dramatic sense. and in that sense, the primary, as much as possible, was not going to be one of these primaries where you go off and spend the primary talking about x. and have to go and shift and talk about y in the general election. and that was the theory. i think you go back to read the announcement speech, it was a speech sort of given before the general election. >> i want to jump ahead, but the interesting, larry mentioned the formative research that we're doing. and if they were all would agree that we all believe the race is going to be about the economy in some form or fashion, and the
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question was what was the definition of what the economy was. and all that research that we did in the spring of 2011 was largely about the way people saw the economy from their own experience, and the general sense of entitlement that the middle-class felt calm and real anger, anger of a government and also anger about wall street, anger about the courses -- the forces they felt were conspiring against them. we knew that we had and objected to, which was defined -- defined the economy and our own terms and wake up with that sense of, and alter the race right to the last date i think that definitional fight over what the economic challenge was was central to this whole campaign. >> [inaudible] that you guys were preparing for?
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>> i know who you want me to say. [laughter] >> but you can't worry about -- [talking over each other] >> was there somebody, remember that whole, you know -- >> i said earlier sometimes it's more important making the process of thinking about president, but when you're in a primary you can't worry about who is not in the game, and people came to the own decision on whether not they're going to get in the race. to stewart's point, we're going to run the primary race, no matter who got them. and i certainly think that winning the nomination is always tougher than anyone thinks it is even if there's a front runner way out in front. us outgrow a primary fight it was. i had the opportunity to work for president bush in 2004 on his reelection. he had a lot of opportunity to look at that deal.
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we always thought john kerry, john kerry would always be on top. but there was -- when mr. dean came out of nowhere. so there's always the inevitability of somebody shaking it. but i know he said around and worry about one individual getting in over another, it would have impacted the way we ran. you can't sit around and worry about other people. >> to governor romney ever expressed you, boy, i wonder if so and so is going to get in? >> you know, he was actually on people but i think he felt the field -- rick perry got in late, and stewart always said there's someone else was going to get in the race. don't know who it will be but they're still a choice out there. so when rick perry got in and no one else did, we felt that it was pretty much -- that's when we thought -- >> was a someone else you thought was going to run, jim?
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>> i know there was a moment, i certainly believe that the good been a third party candidate. >> mac has it right. you look at who's in the race and you compare. but i think we all internally believed mitt would run it we kind of looked at it and he seemed like he was going to run. spent like he was looking for a way to run. >> to see how he would be in the primary. [inaudible] you can kind of see him try to get there. so i think we spent some time thinking about him. >> did governor daniels -- he was openly talking about other people getting in, stuart, in a way that i'm sure didn't make you guys very happy. eric, do you member governor romney calling governor daniels, look, are you in or out? >> what matt said is true.
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we didn't sit around our headquarters and fret about who might be in the race him who might not be in the race. there's a good deal of speculation about candidates, third party candidate, but it never really influenced our thinking with the other insurance of the type of campaign we would run in the primary. >> you guys did a health care speech, or the health care powerpoint? >> before. >> explained what the teenager had to do that when you did it. >> there was no question whether or not, there's a lot of pressure and early in the party, whether or not the governor would change his position on what his position would be on health care. so it was important to get that on -- off the table, go and see what is going to be and let the
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chips fall where they may. >> erika, do you feel like you got off the cable? >> look, health care was a major obstacle in the nation that we had to wrestle with, what mitt put in place in massachusetts was what the president did it with a national health care plan to we thought there were some very meaningful differences. i mean, everybody wants to extend health insurance to more people. the question is how do you finance. the way we finance it at the state level is what took a pot of money, and mitt said this is what made the massachusetts plan work. he said why don't we redirected and used to subsidize health care to people who need assistance, financial assistance. that's very much different than the financing mechanism in the president's health care plan. so we thought that was meaningful.
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[inaudible] >> it's not a pejorative. [laughter] >> so that's what we worked to convince the primary electorate of, and i think we made a persuasive argument but i think far more persuasive was the economic condition of the fact that in our view romney had superior job creation skills than any other candidate in the primary spent jim, it always seemed to me like you guys are finding ways to talk about ron and health care during the. anytime you guys were in a bunker on health care, it was like you used romney's name almost as -- is that a fair observation? >> we talked about his record. we admired what he did. >> thanks for your help. i mean, it was a strategic -- anytime you're going to talk about health care you're going to mention mitt romney.
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>> we wanted to make sure people understood the similarities between the two plans, and it was an easy place to go. not hard to you guys were very helpful spent is also particularly important to do that while he was involved in the republican primary, because one of our objectives was to make the process as long, as challenging for them, understanding that we thought he would ultimately be the nominee. anything we could do to create a little mischief was good, and the fact, you know, there was just a doubt about it. i think you guys carried it as well as you could, but, you know, much of the republican thanks was built around opposition to this health care plan. and so it was a natural thing for his opponents to attack him. i really do admire him for what he did there, but i know a lot of republicans didn't. >> it always seemed to me that you guys were waiting as long as you costly could to engage in the primary and waited and waited and waited.
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when was the moment you guys thought okay, where in a primary -- i'm talking about the governor -- >> when we looked at the calendar, this is another story while there were 22 primary debates be on one of the things again, i want to ask you about reforming the process, everybody, different parts of the process. >> but when you look at the calendar, and he was september, three -- in september, and at that point we were -- at least for me that's what i thought we came out, we prepared for that and out we went. >> and larry, so they're having a primary debate. did you view them as organizing tools and how did you do that? >> actually owes a double-edged sword force because in some ways folks were really engaged and they wanted to get involved to
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see what issues were being discussed in the primaries, and felt like that didn't represent what they felt was important, they wanted to volunteer. but at the same time we did have a early on a lot of our folks think the president is going to be all right, you know, he's fine -- >> do you think the debates were taking the republican party to for? >> exactly. so we face some apathy pretty early on that people did want to get engaged like they had in the past and they felt like he was going to be okay, they did need to get involved early. they didn't need to give as much money. >> that's exactly right. two words, michelle obama, we put her out there in big ways. to jen sport, to make people understand how tough this is going to be, because this was the spring when you guys get going longer and longer, our people kept saying, especially online contributors were like, wake us up when this guy decides to leaders. >> what were you guys doing on
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primary night? i mean the big night. these national conversation on politics, but i once had what were you guys trying to? >> we watched closely and they were good opportunities for us to kind of inter- into the commentary and share with our folks and jabs underneath it and it was also a chance for us to see how the message was unfolding. there were things that were said and debates that we kept a good notes on an popped up later on in the campaign. >> matt, you've been quoted on this before about the issue of immigration coming up and going after rick perry. do you still stand by what come you feel as if -- >> flip-flop. >> no, but you overreacted, overreacted to rick perry. >> look, -- >> specific on the immigration.
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>> to win your party's nomination stewardship to go out and you have to take it. and at that moment in time during the early stages of the primary process, rick perry was a very formidable opponent. you also look at who the individual is at that moment in time, and we were running a campaign based on jobs and the economy, and this is the governor of the state that created at that point people would say every single job in the entire country. ..
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[laughter] >> and so what happened was, you know, by the third debate when we opened up that flank on immigration, i think that we were already, we had already tugged the string on governor perry and that we didn't need to go into that space. and so i stand by what i said. but, you know, hindsight is 20/20 -- >> sure. >> and it, you know -- >> he seemed to be helping as well. >> sir, when did you know that perry was done with? that you had dispatched of perry, basically, and it was going to be somebody else you were going to have to deal with? >> when he got out. i think that governor perry was a formidable candidate -- >> was he the only one in that field that had the ability to beat you? >> oh, no, i disagree with that at all. i think that there is a great underappreciation for the quality of the candidates that
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were in that primary. i think that for the republican primary vote was more in sync than senator clinton was for the democratic party base, and she obviously senator santorum didn't have the formidable apparatus, he didn't have the body weight -- >> do you think if santorum had had perry's early money it's a different -- >> well, i think it's -- what do we know about the republican party? it's increasingly evangelical, southern and populist. what do we know about mitt romney? [laughter] i think that is a testament to his political skill, that he didn't begin this with a
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natural, geographical or ideological base. and yet he was able particularly in those debates through, i think, sheer political skill to -- taking positions that in many cases people disagreed with. like health care. but to convince the republican party that he had the qualities that they wanted to be their nominee. >> what would you gees seeing in your -- you gees seeing in your debates where every year it was the new whack-a-mole, conservative challenger. so we went from perry to herman cain next? herman cain was next, right? in that sort of moment, and then he blew up at the bloomberg debate, and i think that sort of ended -- who were these voters? matt, who were they? that, you know, that started with trump and with bachmann? i mean, it seemed like it was the same 20% of the electorate. >> you know, i just want to add
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to on to what stuart said about the field. governor perry was, obviously, formidable. senator santorum, anybody who underestimates his ability to earn the nomination, this was a guy who just camped out in iowa. and so much of running for president, the guys and gals that work the hardest tend to be in the later rounds. and senator have you been certainly had the work ethic to go through the end. but governor pawlenty over the course of the summer on paper, an incredibly formidable -- >> you're right. the minute you say that, i'm like, oh, that's right. [laughter] >> thank you. if we got into later on in the primary process and we were going head to head to governor pawlenty, he certainly could take away some of the vote that we were going to garner in a place like illinois, for example. when we won the illinois primary, we won because of the suburbs of chicago. and if we were up against governor paw lendty at that
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point, that probably would have been a lot more challenging. then you mentioned the fact we had, i don't know, was it 22 or 24 debates? i think it was 24. it sounds better. >> 21 were on these horrible networks. the the three or four really good ones were on nbc, i know that. [laughter] >> with well, if you have 24 debates and speaker gingrich is in all of them, he's a pretty formidable opponent. this field had a lot of quality contenders. and like i said in the beginning no matter who the field is, you have to go out and take the nomination. because someone is going to be the anti-mitt, the anti-kerry. you guys kind of had a little situation in 2008. the anti-bush in 2000. it just happens. that's the way politics is. and so people at certain points in the campaign were not completely ready to close the deal with the gov. they went shopping elsewhere. i think during the course of the
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primary our campaign did a good job. you say whack-a-mole, what have you want to call it, you know, that was going on as well. that's what happened. >> by the way, i want to give you credit. i remember one of the dumbest e-mail exchanges i had is i remember you would say newt's going to come, newt's going to pop in iowa, and i'm like, come on. you already dispatched a herman cain, a perry, and sure enough. >> we were the campaign that was not even behind people in the race. >> you were the one kauai saying -- one guy saying newt before anybody did. >> he's an immensely talented individual. but i think the impact of the super pacs in this, elongating the process, there's been a lot of talk about the rules of the rnc and all this which i think are definitely worth studying, but campaigns end because they run out of money. and super pacs took that quality away from a lot of these
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campaigns. and nobody wakes up in a campaign headquarters and goes, you know, that's it. they run -- it's because they can't keep the lights on, they can't pay staffers. and super pacs elongated this race in a way that we've never seen before. and romney, obviously, had super pac help. but i think -- >> without a super pac, gingrich wins iowa, right? >> oh -- [inaudible conversations] i can't game this out. >> right. >> you know, this or that. but i think overall it served to keep candidates alive that didn't have the fundraising ability otherwise which is why campaigns end. and i think that's a really important point when you sort of sit back and study whole process. what was new about this cycle. >> and you guys made a decision,
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jack, to go the super route. what did you see out there that said, you know what? we're going to have to flip-flop on super pacs. >> with well, i think david and jim can speak more to this, but in reality the system was set up in a way that we had to make sure that we won and that we were fighting against what was coming at us. and it was clear, i think the biggest lesson i learned in 2010 was on the other side in terms of the super pacs, they were incredibly coordinated, incredibly sophisticated, spent a significant amount of money on television whether it was americans for apple pie or, you know, i love my grandma, they all had coordinated messages and ads, and that really hurt us in 2010. so that was something -- >> grandma can be pretty negative. >> exactly. [laughter] >> i mean, jim, were you -- when you came out, when you guys came out as a policyish? tive, no, we're -- initiative, no, we're saying no on super
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pacs, there were a lot of democrats complaining, and you would get that call. why are you guys doing this? because you've now ruined it for the entire democratic party. >> two things. one, i think this was a mistake we made. but at that point it was the right decision. it was true to who we were and what we were. they had already gone out and said they were going to do this thing, and they were doing their super pac -- >> sweeney who was running a democratic -- >> right, right. >> two form orer white house staffers, started democratic super pacs hoping they would get blessed by you guys. >> correct. so there was an explosion of super pacs. rowe was out there quoting numbers and all these groups. so one day i did a round of calls and wrote on my whiteboard how much i thought they were going to spend, and i called david in. and the number was 660 million from the super pacs, and david looked at that and said we need
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to have a meeting. and we flipped soon after. >> i mean, look, the reality is that you can't play by two sets of rules. there was a lot of money amassed on the other side, and it was a frightening thing. looking at his whiteboard was a chilling experience. so we had to make an adjustment. but getting back to stuart's point, in the primaries there sheldon edelson writes a $10 million check to newt gingrich who was flat out, busted growth. by the way, speaker gingrich is going to be here february 19th -- [laughter] he was flat out, busted broke and one guy wrote a check, and he's back in the game. it's a whole different deal. >> matt, when did you know you guys had to be in the super pac game? right away? was there ever a doubt that you guys were going to do this? >> i don't think there was ever a doubt. [laughter] >> but it was sort of out of necessity, or did you see it as
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potential lu a strategic -- potentially a strategic advantage? >> it was just an inevitability. like they got -- jim got the luxury of pushing it off, that decision. jim and david. you guys were going to come to that decision sooner -- >> did you think that they would come to that decision? >> yes. [laughter] >> when they saw the amount of money? and youfies knew you had to do -- you guys knew you had to do it from the get go? >> well, we didn't do it -- >> well, that was what was so weird about it. there's some coordination, but it's not really coordination. what is it? >> you could communicate for 120 days before the fist broadcast -- first broadcast advertisements, i think it's 120 days, it might be 90 days. >> 90 days. >> and, um, still figure what that means, why that exists. so we didn't have much -- we played very much by the rules,
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but before the campaign existed, you know, restore our future existed. >> let me, i mean, i think that this whole question of the impact of these new rules is something that is greatly underappreciated. and also this is the first time we've not had federal funding. and the incumbent -- >> on either side. >> right. [inaudible conversations] >> and, you know, in 1976, postwatergate, we knew -- which was part of the impetus for federal funding -- that incumbent presidents were greatly advantaged in a knop principal system -- in a nonfederal system because you have four years to raise all this money. so on our whiteboard we had a billion dollars which is the amount of money we knew obama would be able to raise as an incumbent president. so it's just, the system is in a crazy -- >> just to give you guys an eye, i want to throw some numbers out here. and, matt, correct me if i'm
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wrong. for bush and gore after their conventions each spent $64 million. i believe that was one week of advertising in the month of august for both sides. in 2012. th wasn't that long ago. and the word got out on bush and gore, if i'm not mistaken. [laughter] people realized, people kind of knew where everybody stood. but anyways, the astronomical -- i want to -- >> 65, we would have -- >> you would have had 538 votes instead of -- i want to go to right before we get to the general election and to the romney folks. what was the scariest moment in the primaries? where was that like, eric, where you thought, jesus christ, we might lose this thing. was it the michigan primary? was it three days before then? was it ohio? what was the os moment? [laughter]
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>> i don't think we were ever in fear of losing it, but the os moment, for me anyway, was south carolina. >> losing it or the margin? >> putting gingrich back into the game. because he was surging in iowa, but he finished, you know, down in the pack there. he was of fading, got the check from sheldon, and he performed, outperformed in south carolina. we never thought we'd crack the south carolina egg. we did better in '12 than we did in '08, moved up. but it put newt in the driver's seat for a period of time and forced us to go into florida and really turn on the jets. >> matt, stuart? any -- any other different os moment? >> i would say a little bit later on just from a budget stand poimentd because i was -- standpoint because that was what i was responsible for. there were moments as the long
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slog which was what we called the primary process got further and further along there were some big states that cost a lot of money to put up on tv. and so there were certain moments in our campaign where we took our bank down close to zero. and so when you do that, you know, there's a lot riding on you performing well in that state, and there was -- week after week was must-win states. and so from a budget standpoint, you know, there's a lot of decision making that i had to do, and you start to think about staff that you might have to let go, and that's just not, you know, they're human beings, and it's brutal. i would say that was the most brutal part -- >> sort of in the post, this is in that midwest slog, ban, ohio -- >> yeah. south carolina was great with. i was like let's go down to florida -- >> i thought it would be the night that we lost denver or colorado, minnesota and missouri. because it was just, oh, it was
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totally os because -- [laughter] this is, like, another month of this, really? and i didn't feel like we were going to lose, i had kind of fun in south carolina, not fun, but i realized that mitt's the kind of candidate who could come back in florida and hit a long ball and do great. but that three-state loss that night just meant that we were going to be -- >> ground hog day and not see his shadow. stuart? >> michigan was a really tough stretch, i thought. because losing michigan would not have been a positive experience. [laughter] and, you know, we went -- >> we in the media would have been pretty brutal. >> we went into a ten-down, and it's a very expensive state, and it was a state that had a lot of symbolic ghosts. and it was really hand to hand. and, you know, we didn't win it
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by a landslide, but we won it. >> so, harry, it's april -- larry, it's april. they wrap up the nomination. i think there was a jobs report that came out that was in the toilet, if i'm not mistaken in april 2012 -- >> but you can't look at one month. [laughter] >> but there was this when suddenly how fast it united the party, did it surprise you how fast that the party just rallied around him so fast after all that slog where it was like every week, you know, we were keeping ourselves awake going let's see what happens in this county? >> no, i think -- we're so, we're such a partisan country in the electorate, we never thought after this thing, you know, the nod romney primary electorate's not going to galvanize. and that's our theory all along was this narrow little band that's going to decide this thing. and there was never any doubt
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that the party would consolidate quickly. >> jim, was the plan always you guys were going to announce about a week or two, do the formal rollout whenever they were done? was that sort of the premise if they had wrapped in march, you guys started in april? >> we knew when we were going to go. we knew exactly when we were going to go. we had that plan done by the end of the year. you know, we had contingency plans because our biggest os moment in the primary is we were worried they were going to end it after new hampshire, and we wanted a long primary. we knew exactly what we were going to do and when we were going to do it. >> so beth's os moment was our oh good moment. >> right. [laughter] we had a bunch of time getting ready for that. jen had laid out a plan all built around that. >> if may was the announcement. >> it's also tied in with the media. we knew we were back from election day, we thought we had the resources to start running media in may, so we wanted to
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hit all at once. >> now, it's always been my understanding that you guys assumed that the minute romney got the nomination that super pac attack ads would start the next day. >> actually, the big surprise to us was we thought super pac ads -- our greatest fear is that they would hit in january, february and march when we were really unprepared to deal with them. and, i mean, to this day i still am confused as to why that didn't happen. if i'm running a super pac that's not affiliated with one of the republican candidates and i see what's going on on the republican side, i'm saying to myself i better provide some air cover, because the president is getting a free pass right now. >> stuart, isn't this proof you guys weren't coordinated? [laughter] i mean, this is proof there was no coordination because which we were -- were you always wondering where was the valval
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ri? -- calvary? >> you're doing a whole week on it. >> it's like any new development, you know, tanks or machine guns. [laughter] these things, what worked and didn't work. i think that the, what we discovered on our side to our surprise and disappointment was that there some, i think, superb super pac ads done on the pro-romney side, but that the impact that they had was not, from voters, was not what we would have expected it to have. and you can analyze this and ask why this was. the most obvious question -- answer, i think, would be because it was not coordinated with the campaign. and our ads always worked best as all ads do, as you learn in campaign 101, when you coordinate it with the campaign,
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and you roll it out with your press and your whole campaign apparatus, and it backs up the ads. they couldn't do that because they weren't coordinating with the campaign, and they weren't coordinating with each other that much. so they would make different ads that were good as they stood alone, but they weren't -- as david observed, and i think we were at annenberg -- they weren't directing one message. so, you know, the obama campaign outspent us 2 to 1 in advertising, and you looked at it on paper, and the pro-romney side leveled that out with super pac ads, but the effectiveness was not what we would have thought. >> and when you guys announced, jim, i remember being at your announcement, and i was reading a triplet of an interview with your -- a transcript of an interview with your running mate, and i said to you, i assume that you were not rolling out the president endorsing gay marriage, that that wasn't the rollout plan for the first week of the campaign. is that fair to saysome.
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>> i think it's fair to say. [laughter] >> not the december -- >> that was not the december -- >> not on the whiteboard. >> that was not on the whiteboard? is. >> [inaudible] >> david, talk about that. i remember you and i, i spoke to you, and i said you know about this -- it was the day before. >> right. >> are we pretape with the biden, and biden had come out for gay marriage. i said you know he's going to make a whole bunch of news tomorrow. were you guys aware of how big that was going to be sucking up that weeksome. >> yeah. once you showed me that, we were pretty clear what was about to happen. [laughter] >> just another gay marriage week? >> so first we get a campaign, and this is what -- not the message you guys planned on kicking off on. >> yeah. i mean, it was, it was challenging, but it also was true that we all knew having talked to the president that he was going to make that, he was going to take that step.
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in -- so, yes, we would have taken it in a different -- >> you didn't want a convention fight. you didn't want a platform fight -- >> it was the right time to do it. >> he was ready to do it. and either he was going to get a question or, you know, and, yes, the convention issue was coming up on us. so there were a lot of reasons for him to do it. and, you know, we didn't plan on the vice president doing it first. [laughter] so -- >> but once he did, i mean, the truth is once he did it forced the issue, and the truth of the matter is that, um, we can't quite know how the politics would all net out, but the president, the way he handled it in the interview, how he spoke to it, and then you can speak to it, jen, more than i, but i think it had a galvanizing effect -- if was that the first time you guys had all of a sudden you had people, this increased supporters? >> absolutely. and, you know, and, frankly, brought in people that hadn't been part of the process even in
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2008. so it not only galvanized our folks, it brought in some new people. frankly, most people didn't know the behind the scenes or the back and forth, so this part didn't really effect our supporters. they just thought this was something they had hoped the president would do, they agreed with in many way, and that made them want to get moreen gauged in the election, so it was a boon for us. >> i put together a timeline to try to figure out how to have this conversation with you guys. i look at this, and i feel like the month of june turned out to be the most important month of the campaign with you guys on the obama side he does the immigration executive order on the dream act, and then the supreme court decision on health care. and it was a big financial month for you guys. that's when -- so i want to go to all three of those issues. let's start with the health care decision.
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were you guys planning for a reversal, stuart? were you guys assuming it was going to be overturned? it seems like that day it felt like, to me as an observer, you guys were caught off guard that health care was upheld. >> no. >> no. >> no, i think we had -- >> contingency plans either way. >> yeah. >> yeah, i think we were caught off guard like everybody by the mechanism which it was sustained if mechanism is the right word, the roberts ruling -- >> right. >> [inaudible] >> yeah. >> we had not contemplated that. >> there wasn't a lot of pregame, preruling speculation that that was going to happen. >> yeah. >> you thought, you weren't gaming it out that -- >> we had both that it would go, and we had sort of water cooler discussions over which would be better politically. not that it mattered. >> david, how important was that
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decision going your way? >> it was important. you know, we had our own water cooler, and we had our own discussion. and i think that, you know, we contemplated what might happen if it were -- and, yes, it would galvanize some constituencies, but you couldn't escape the fact that there was a signature achievement of the president's first term, and had it been reversed, i think it would have had negative effects on us. no doubt about it. >> i never have understood the argument that it was going to be a positive for him had it been overturned. >> we didn't either. [laughter] >> okay. >> basically right. >> the first two years would have been considered unconstitutional. >> i think it was wrong that it would have been positive for him, because the argument would have been that it would have taken a lot of the energy out of the republican base because to overturn obama care would be moot now because it was overturned, and to keep it in
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the electoral factor have to vote against obama. i think i was wrong. >> i would say two things on this. one is a win is a win, and it was at a time when president was getting beaten up. >> i was just going to say -- [inaudible conversations] it's, you know, it's just our turn in the barrel is what he was saying. >> yeah. and so something positive happening was good. second, our vote always correlated with people's view of the affordable care act. and so, and after the ruling the affordable care act's favorability went up. and so there was a, there was a kind of a lifting of a ceiling there that was very real. >> july is very different if the supreme court overturns. >> oh -- >> >> i mean -- matt, june turned out to be a bigger fundraising month than even you guys expected, isn't that fair to say? >> yep. >> and i have heard versions of this. did it change sort of how you were going to do july?
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did it change the timing on vp, did it change the timing on a trip -- i mean, what did the june fundraising boost free you up to do? >> well, one of the biggest challenges we had once we wrapped up -- >> that was the first month, i believe, the first time you outraised obama, right? >> yeah. but still one of the challenges we had, we're the presumptive nominee at that point, and we had raised $87 million in $2500 chunks when an individual could only give $2500 once during ha period until we got to the convention. so a lot of the money we raised then was victory money that we were using to grow the party and build out the infrastructure. but we certainly faced a financial disadvantage, and this is, you know, every time i look at what didn't work out for us as a campaign or an organization, it's usually tied back to the power of incumbency. and this campaign's ability to use the power of the incumbency to their benefit. and certainly during this period
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we were raising a lot of money, but it wasn't all money that we could immediately send out the door and put on tv. >> a very small percentage of it, in fact. it was frustrating. i know we'd have these morning meetings -- >> these numbers would come in. >> all right, we've got this perception out there that we're rake anything the money, and donors would call and say why aren't you up on tv? well, let me explain it to you, the money we can use. it was very frustrating to us. >> and i think very few reporters understood this. >> we would do these numbers and try to do the apples to apples, and no one seemed to care. >> but the only money we could spend on television before the convention was primary dollars placed under the $2500 limit. and that is how the system is currently -- >> and our fundraiser, you know, i would say we need more, we need more of that money. >> primary money.
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>> you can imagine how difficult it is in july when you run a primary to go and raise primary dollars. >> and you didn't have that other case. you guys ha 3 the luxury in -- had the luxury in your primary, david, where you had these clinton donors who had never given you money. you guys didn't have those people in your primary. >> no. the biggest difference is that they had someone who was not going to -- they were not going to take federal financing versus mccain who was. so that gave them an ability to raise unlimited money, and mccain was locked into finish. >> but on your primary side there was nobody who had a fundraising list, there was nobody who had new names for you. is that fair to say, matt? >> there was some, but not -- >> so our theory during this period, you know, i know david, these guys made the decision that spending money early is
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spending money late. yeah. that's the power of incumbency, and you guys made the right decision clearly. so during this period where we're facing this challenge we did a few things. and our goal was to use the money that we were raising in big chunks and have the rnc set up an rnc dependent expenditure which began running ads over the summer which that probably occurred, the rnc probably moved that timetable up earlier than they would have otherwise -- >> because you had a little more money. >> the other thing that we had going on was super pacs. and we believed just as david, i think, said earlier that at that moment there'd be a lot of super pac activity, and there certainly was, but we needed the super pacs and the ie, and also during this period the governor signed off on a $20 million loan that allowed us to use primary money that we later repaid back, um, with general
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money through sec law. and so we saw what was going on, and we worked the to try to compete with what they were doing but, clearly, they had more resources that the point in time. there's so much coverage, debates are so dominant. and that we had an imperative which was to define the race and, frankly, to define mitt romney before the conventions in that, you know, it was better to larry's proposition to bet, take money out of september and
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october, put it into may, june and july. and so the other big thing happened in june was we started running ads about mitt romney. >> positive were may and then june you guys went anything. >> massachusetts record in june. >> we moved $63 million from the spring into the summer. >> the al gore tv budget for the entire fall capable in 2000 you moved into -- >> but we had to say to obama, we had to say to obama you're walking into, you're likely going to get outpent 2-3 to 1 in october. but david said we've got to do it. at the same time, we dumped a bunch of money on the ground in june as well, huge staff, huge voter registration stuff. so we really took two bets on labor day -- memorial day, and we were, you know, had to look at the president of the united states and say this is our best
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guess. >> jen, explain what the immigration -- so i'm sticking to june here. what the immigration executive order meant for hispanic outreach. >> it was so important for us. we knew that if we were going to win in florida, colorado and nevada, we had to have very unique programs based on the types of voters in those states. you can't just have one cookie cutter approach. we also had a lot of young people that were really galvanized about the dream act traveling across the country highing what they -- highlight what they believed and how they wanted the administration to act. so as much as we had going for us, it was a critical registration period, the dream act really was hard for us. so having that executive order really brought not just the community to the present a little more, but young people. and it took them from, you know, thinking good thoughts about the president to taking action directly in support to have president. >> so i am only in july. i'm in trouble here. because i want to give people to
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be able to ask you guys questions. so i'm going to take a couple more minutes of my questions and then i want to mix in some of you students. start lining up at the microphone. but, beth, let me go to you. when did you have your first vp meeting? >> april. >> with the governor? >> uh-huh. >> and had you started vetting before that? >> no. but i i had put a list of candidates together, big list to kind of give him as do yea. >> take a look -- >> yeah. like these guys, don't like these guys? you know? and then he started whittling it down from there. >> i know you're not going to tell a lot about the process and some of the vetting -- >> oh, go ahead. [laughter] >> what were some of the weird questions that maybe a vp candidate had for you that surprised you? >> well, i'll just tell you like weird moments were when i would
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meet with these guys and ask them really personal questions. i think the dynamic was a little interesting because i'm a woman asking them so, you know, i can talk about paul ryan. i sat down with paul ryan in a hotel room and said, basically, tell me about your dating life in washington d.c. [laughter] and it was a bit of an awkward moment, but -- [laughter] that was, and i wish they had given me a room without a suite attached -- >> [inaudible] >> we're not going to sit cross-legged on the bed and talk about this. [laughter] and so they gave me an enormous suite which i found to be appropriate. [laughter] it was, you know, it was an interesting, it was an interesting way to, i mean, i didn't have to ask any embarrassing, really embarrassing questions. >> anybody you met with by the time you met with them you thought -- >> yeah. >> you opportunity have to have
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an awkward -- >> there were some loose ends to tie up. i was keenly aware that, you know, mitt had said he didn't want anybody to have an issue that was a distraction. and so, you know, some of the things that we asked them the personal question or in the public domain that needed to be followed up on. eninstead of having them write personal things. >> so, stuart or matt, how many people quietly came to you guys and said, hey, can you please put me on the list? i mean, like, would you have people, republicans going, you know, i just -- i don't really want to be vetted, but i'd love to be floated please? >> sure -- >> how does that happen? >> people call in and say, you know, they chirp in your ear. i'm not much of a small talker type of guy, so i don't get -- [inaudible] >> eric, you'd be with them at fundraisers. what was that like? because donors all have
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opinions, right? >> yeah, they all had opinions. you know, the whole vp selection process was, i thought, expertly run by beth and very much a close process within the campaign unless the governor invited you into the deliberations. and he did do that from time to time. but i was amazed at the fact that there wasn't a lot of leaking. i think the individuals who did go through that process respected the confidence in which their discussions with the campaign were held. and i think we ended up with the right result. i know that with the selection of paul ryan people thought we had shot ourselves in the foot because we had taken the issue of entitlement reform, specifically medicare and the congressman's plans for transforming the medicare system and put that at the top of the issue agenda in the campaign, but we actually ended up winning
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seniors. and we won seniors in florida. and i think one of the positive legacies of the romney campaign is we showed republicans that they can take on these tough issues. and win. >> you guys, none of you thought it would be ryan, right? >> no. >> you thought -- you were always public about pawlenty, david, right? >> yeah. i was portman because i looked at ohio -- >> larry? >> i had the ryan thing pegged. [laughter] >> you thought ryan? >> i didn't actually cower. >> you didn't care. [laughter] >> let me ask you, would it have made a difference in ohio? would paw lentty have is -- pawlenty have made a different in iowa? were there some people that popped more than others? >> sure. i mean, and you could argue that ryan was one of those people. >> popped for a little bit. >> but the reality was ryan helped us in wisconsin. wisconsin was a place that had five elections before november.
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they had a recall, you know, they were just tired. they were tired of volunteering, they were tired of elections, they were tired of partisanship. so what happened for our folks is when ryan was picked, it engaged our voters and volunteer, and it was like, okay, i have a second win, i'm now going to do more. the impact was less than i think people anticipated. >> all right. let's go to a question. and i just ask you, don't make a speech. and that's all i ask, no political speeches, ask a question. >> absolutely. thank you all for having this event. my question is geared towards the romney camp. following the first presidential debate between the two candidates, there was a point, um, that carried over past the second one, actually, where the momentum sort of changed at least as depicted in the media. and i know that, jim, following the election there was a point where you talked about the accuracy of your polling numbers. i wanted to know if, you know, if the romney numbers, interim numbers were actually --
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internal numbers were actually reflecting the same thing? because there was a change in how romney was carrying himself and being covered in the media. >> eric? >> i was going to say, thank you for bringing up the denver debate. [laughter] >> i was going to get there. i was going to get there. [inaudible conversations] >> the election on october 2nd. [laughter] yeah, it changed the structure of the race. and we saw ha in our polling. -- that in our polling. people who may have closed their mind to governor romney suddenly reopened it. and it made for a much better october than september because in september we were dealing with the fallout from the 47% video. so the denver debate was a real quick pivot for us, and we did experience a lift in the polling, we saw it in the states and nationally. we were receiving more donations, we reenergized
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republicans whose interest in the race was flagging a little bit because of the 47% video. so all in all, that was one of the high points of the campaign. >> jim, did you see the hit in the polls, and when did you stop falling in the polls? >> well, what we saw in our internal numbers was they got back what they lost from the 47%. it literally went like this, this and came right back to where it was. but we never went behind, we never went down, our lead never slunk less than 2.5 points, and we were pretty sure that we were okay the entire time. >> and did you see an energy issue, jen? >> yes. we did. i mean, it was tough for our folks. i think that they were so excited about the debate, i think they felt let down. i think that they felt like, you know, in part they were out there working so hard every single day, and maybe they were concerned about, you know, how the president did in relationship to their hard work. so it was definitely tough, and we rebounded quickly, but it took us some time to
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communicate -- >> well, i think one, and correct me if i'm wrong about this, one of the unintended or unexpected things about this was we were a little complacent, i think, in september. september went better -- >> [inaudible] or was the president complacent? >> no. no, i don't think he was complacent, but i do think it's natural, you know, to feel like, look, all i've got to do is tie in this debate because we're in a good position. i just have to do well enough. and you never want to go into a debate with that attitude. mitt romney knew that his back was against the wall. he had to perform in that debate. had he not performed in that debate, the election was over. he had had a bad -- the conventions fell in our fave, the 47% tape was very, very tough. a lot of independents who leaned republican had gone away from him, and he had to perform in that debate. and, you know, the reverse was, i mean, i don't think we were in
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quite the same position, but the second debate was the reverse. we had to perform -- >> right. >> we knew we couldn't have a second bad debate. but what i was going to say was i think there was of, actually, there was some increase in volunteerism after the debate because people began to worry that maybe this thing was, this thing was actually at risk. >> matt, talk about this polling thing. i mean, you know, i know this has been -- it's among the great sort of, you know, what, what were the -- do you believe you were seeing different numbers than the obama campaign? >> well, i think that there's -- i don't even know if it's a debate anymore, but there's a belief that many republican pollsters across the country were just using a model that at the end of the day wasn't -- >> you think it's an out of date model? >> wasn't accurate for this election. so, you know, there was clearly coming out of that first debate whether the number shift was as great as eric said or as what
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jim says it was equal to, it just did transform the race. and, you know, i think the today before that -- the day before that debate i don't think anyone ever thought it was going to be close again. and after that debate i think that there was a perception because the campaign and governor romney did perform welcoming out of that debate -- coming out of that debate, and i think we had a period of time -- >> what was it, it was the longest gap between two debates in the modern era. >> yeah. >> it felt like a year. [laughter] >> i was just going to say -- >> final flew for us. -- time flew for us. >> it was extra long for us. >> i think, you know, polling is not a betting mechanism in campaigns, it's used to direct campaigns. and i think that's something that is sort of people forget. it's not to cover the spread, it's to guide you in a campaign. [laughter] and if you look at, that's sort of point one.
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point two would be if you look at the last nbc/wall street poll in the campaign, there were seven voters different in that poll. not seven points, but seven voters out of a sample of, i think, 1800 votes. that's a pretty close race. when you have seven voters' difference. now, we were behind those seven votes, but, um, i think there are a lot of interesting polling studies that can be done. but i think that neil did a fantastic job guiding us in this campaign. >> it was very depressing often talking to him. >> we wouldn't have gotten the nomination without neil and the input he had into all our decision making. >> let me -- >> monday night, neil newhouse, joel benenson, the two principal campaign pollsters, and john harwood will be moderating that
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discussion. so we'll have a full discussion on that. >> let's go. the next question. >> the subject of of of indepent candidates came up briefly, and i was wondering if there was any point -- >> i want to re-ask your question. i'll get to your -- but there was a point in the fall of '11, jim messina, where you and i would have conversations about i was convinced there was going to be a serious third candidate -- third party candidate. you were convinced of it that it was a potential threat. why? >> look, i think if you look at '92 and the incumbent president, you just don't know who they're going to take votes from. and at the time we were going through a brutal time after the debt limit, and this was not a good time for us. and we looked at who those potential candidates could be, and some of them. on the gary johnson thing, we
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did look closely at that. i remember jen and i having deep discussions about his pro-marijuana positions and what that did to us -- >> you thought that could take votes away from you guys. >> that was a theory, that it could take young students -- >> marijuana initiative on the ballot in california. >> right. >> but what we finally concluded and, larry, you can speak to this, that no matter who we looked at at the end of the day, we didn't lose out because people were, didn't want to be for us but didn't want -- they would default. so they already had made a judgment about us, and they -- so we ultimately credit concludt an independent wouldn't hurt us. >> larry, your floor was in the '40s. >> right. we had obama voters -- >> bush in 't -- '92. >> right. there were obama voters -- >> [inaudible conversations] >> when we put in a third person -- >> did you ever run bloomberg?
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>> we did. >> yeah, we did. >> matt, did you ever think there was going to be, forget gary johnson or ron paul, but that moderate, you know, somebody that was going to try to split, you know, hey, the country's polarized, the bloomberg type? >> i don't think i ever really thought about that seriously, but to the questioner's question, dr. paul. you know, that -- dr. paul is someone that we took serious from the beginning of our primary right up to the day of our convention when mitt was nominated. and we were fortunate, um, you know, dr. paul and his supporters are anybody that underestimates them does it at their own peril. and we were fortunate that the governor had developed a relationship because -- >> so the relationship between -- [inaudible conversations] between the spouses too, right? >> yeah, also between the spouses. and they had debated between the 2008 and 2012 primary i think they had debated 37 times together. [laughter] >> wow. >> and, you know, they had grown i don't want to speak for them,
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but i know the gov is fond of dr. paul. he's a nice man. and, but we always took dr. paul seriously in the primary, and we were very happy that he stayed finish. >> do you think without that personal relationship that he might have been more tempted? >> i don't know. i don't know. but i think it's important in life to treat people with respect, because it pays off. >> let's go to the next question. >> hi, thank you. i'd like to take from both sides. in hindsight, is there anything campaign strategy wise including super pacs and vp picks that differently might have changed the outcome of the campaign? or is there other factors, noncampaign strategy-related including demographics, the primary process or the slowly recovering economy that were just too great for any campaign camp to reverse the outco of the campaign? and if the latter, which factor was th most crucial? >> one montone thing you would o change and rerun the campaign.
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stewart. >> me? i hate questions like that. [laughter] >> i love it. it's a great question. >> it's a really good question. i've had a lot of sleepless nights thinking about that, so can we just skip that? [laughter] >> i don't think a campaign turns on one moment. i can, you know, on one hand you can say, look, i think in -- i don't know any campaign that was outspent 2 to 1 on television as we were where an incumbent has lost to a challenger without system sort of scandal. it, if we could have won the primary earlier, i think it would have greatly advantaged. >> that's sort of, if you could
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war game it that way. >> we were close to winning the primary earlier. >> yeah. >> though history will show that, um, that's very difficult to do, um, for a candidate -- >> turned out -- [inaudible conversations] >> to do. other than that, i think i'll just -- >> eric, what's -- give me the one, give us, what would you like to or war game? >> well, look, you know, i think you have got to give the obama campaign a good deal of credit for increasing the turnout of women voters, young people, hispanic voters, even african-american voters. i didn't think you'd be able to surpass what obama was able to accomplish with the african-american electorate 2008, but they did. especially in ohio. and i think ha accounted for -- that accounted for their victory there. but ultimately, i think the reason that obama won is the economy got better. this was the central reason for the rationale for the romney
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campaign, and when mitt announced in june of 2011 the unemployment rate was 10% and in the last month of the campaign it was 7.8%. so their trend lines were going in the right direction, and as the economy showed improvement, obama's numbers got -- >> that's no fun. that's the academic answer. [laughter] david, what's the one thing you would not want to have changed, what's ha one moment? >> election day. [laughter] [applause] >> what is something that happened in your favor that you feared, jeez, if that had gone, if that had flipped, sort of taking the same question in reverse. what's the one thing you wouldn't have wanted to go through this campaign without. >> well, let me say, i think eric's answer may have been an academic one, but i don't think it was inconsequential. if those jobs numbers had continued to churn along there, our great fear was that there would be a reversal and the numbers would start going
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backwards, and that -- >> like last month. >> well -- that would put us -- [laughter] >> we quit keeping track. >> that would put us in uncharted -- [inaudible conversations] so that was a concern. but, you know, the, you know, stuart said they got outspent 2 to 1, and technically that's true. and and he made the point that he doesn't believe that the super pac spending was helpful, but it was immense. there is great value to incumbency, and there is no question about it. and, you know, we had looked, we looked at president bush's campaign in 2004. he was in a difficult situation that was similar to ours. he worked very hard to turn into it a choice and make sure that it wasn't a referendum election. we did the same thing, and we had the advantage of being able to plan and do our work over a long period of time while these guys were mired in a primary. >> uh-huh. >> and that was enormously
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advantageous. >> you really go to that stuart question. >> well, i think that is true from a timing standpoint, but also they paid a terribly high price for that nomination. i'm not criticizing because you can't be the president unless you get nominated. but this was a difficult environment for those republican primaries, and those debates were brutal. and in order to get through those, governor romney took some positions and used some language that probably if he had no primaries he would not have done. and i think that made it very hard. i think that that set up a very difficult general election. >> let me go fast. any moment that you would like to war game it out, war game it differently? >> instead of a moment what i was going to say is i would have liked to have had about ten fewer primary debates. i think they sapped energy, and they -- >> took time away from -- >> totally. >> yeah. larry? what's something you could have done without?
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tactically? >> well, i mean, i think it's certainly been said i i think that the nominating process that romney had to go through was the great asset for us. one of the things that wasn't mentioned about our early tv buy, in addition to everybody focuses on the bain stuff, but in addition to that we had the first, earliest and longest hispanic media buy of any campaign in presidential history. second, we also started a women's track of television at that time that went continuously through to the end. and both of those tracks really were focused -- a little less so on the latino thing, we ultimately came around to talk about governor romney -- but certainly the women's track really focused on the statements he made in the nominating process. >> we saw all this happening, and -- [inaudible] >> you didn't have the recourse to do it. let me go to another question. >> hi. thank you all for coming. my question's for both campaigns but from the perspective of the
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romney campaign, i remember on election day the reports -- thought about suburban counties, colorado, central florida, virginia, that indicated romney had some strong turnout, but those reports turned out to be erroneous. so i just wondered if you could speak about what's the communication like on election day and how do you change your policies to maybe maneuver and get some voters out? >> by the way, if you could let me know when election day starts. by the way, and did you know we're still counting votes in some places? matt, you want to take that? >> i think that the republican party needs to and chairman prebus, i know reince priebus is the chairman of the republican party, they need to catch up on the voter turnout side. and, again, this is another example, and i hate going back to it, but it is true, and i'm not trying to use it as an excuse or a crutch, but the power of incumbency.
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they had five years to work on their voter turnout plan, and our party really needs to focus on investing the resources as soon as possible and figure out the brightest, best new tools that we can use on the political side to not only catch up, but to potentially exceed. so whoever gets the nomination in 2016 has a party ap rat us behind them that's as good as an incumbent or as close as possible. i don't remember specifically election day's a blur. [laughter] i don't mean to not answer your question on that, but i just don't remember, i don't remember what you're talking about. >> jen, you were counting all these votes, literally vote by vote. when did you know, when did you know you were going to hit all your targets? maybe you weren't ready to say that the president was going to win re-election, but when did you know all the numbers we said
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we have to hit we're going to hit? >> um, i was pretty confident, and i was probably more confident than jim. but because we felt like our plan was pretty solid and our numbers were bearing out. but our election day started in september, and in, you know, in iowa early where, you know, we had early vote. and, frankly, we didn't do as much in early vote in 2008 as we did in 2012. we stopped or worrying about polling because we were counting votes, and every single day we would look at exactly who was voting in these states that had early vote, and so we were able to say, look, we're not hypothesizing this, this is the turnout we're seeing. these are the people we've modeled, and we felt like those numbers were matching the numbers we expected to see and that our planning was in place for what we needed j. was it, stuart, was it rhetoric when you guys would say, oh, they're just moving vote. did you really believe that -- >> [inaudible] >> you know, when they would talk about the early vote
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numbers -- [inaudible conversations] it's the same vote as election day. did you, was that campaign spin? or did you guys -- >> well, the fog of war you don't really know what's happening because you don't know what's going to happen on election day. i mean, look, we haven't talked about the impact of hurricane sandy here. >> no, we haven't. >> which i think was a force here that certainly was negative for the romney campaign. in the sense that it was about, what is the first thing you learn in campaigns? it's about agenda control, and, certainly, we lost control of the agenda. so, look, um, every campaign needs to seem confident many a world in which nbc/"wall street journal" poll, again, shows you seven votes different, we had reason to be confident. it was not specious for us to be confident. and there are predictive qualities of people following those who are confident. actually, i think, one of the
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most interesting if you read nate silver's book, i think the most interesting part of it is the predictive qualities of people following those who are confident. and so -- >> good the election's over because stuart's quoting nate silver now. [laughter] >> i'm not sure -- and i think his books are interesting. the idea that we were overconfident, i think, has been overplayed. but the history of people flocking to the barricades the follow campaigns to say, hey, we have a shot is not particularly great. um, you know, it tends to be -- >> you're not going to motivate people by saying, hey -- >> we have a chance of winning. >> yeah. >> looks like we're going to go with the last question here, and then i'm going to give you guys a wrap-up question. >> okay. my question is to what extent you hi that social issues shifted attention away from the conversation about the economy that mitt romney really wanted to have?
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>> matt, you and i were talking about how quickly you guys tried to stop todd akin when that popped, and you did it before -- there was some conservatives who were upset that you guys came down so hard. had you seen something? >> our goal all along from day one was to try to keep the debate and the campaign in mitt's wheelhouse, and mitt's wheelhouse was jobs and the economy with a sprinkle of spending. and we tried our best to keep it focused on those issues because that's where we thought it played to mitt's strength. so anytime there was a moment whether it was related to almost any kind of issue, we always tried the best that we could to, um, get it back to jobs and economy diffuse the situation. sometimes we were successful in diffusing the situation, sometimes we were not. but it was always our goal to try to do. that.
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>> all right. let me -- i want to wrap this way. i've heard, i think i know from the romney side what's the one thing you would change about this process which is fewer debates. so i didn't hear that. if i'm at nbc, we're going to plan a whole bunch of debates, our first one's coming up. [laughter] but we didn't talk about conventions, and i want to look at it this way. there's also a way to talk about the substance of what you guys did at your conventions. are they now too late, and in four years from now will the conventions, will they be earlier, should they be shorter? and i want everybody to chime in. >> yeah, i think they are too late. we shrank our convention and decided to make it three days because it was silly to be four. i think people will continue to look at that. you guys have less appetite to cover a lot of it. i think the whole system needs to look at it. i i think the chairs are looking
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at that. in the united states of america people should not wait six hours in line to vote, and the two parties have to come together and figure out how to run real elections where people can actually vote. >> stuart? >> the only reason conventions are late because people figured out in the federal funding system that you got the same amount of money to spend if you got that -- >> but. [inaudible] >> in july. so i think the people, two points that are related. i think that the conventions should move earlier if we don't have federal funding, but i hope and pray that we can go to a system that has some federal funding because i think that the system we have now is everything minus the corruption that we hated about the watergate system and that we need some sort of reform in the system and campaign finance that we have now. ultimately, history will show this tends to favor republicans. when you take these limits off, we tend to do better. but i think these billion dollar
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campaigns which will be $2 billion campaigns are an abomination and we saw it now when you have people campaigning in concern heavy fundraising schedules in september instead of meeting with voters is not how the system could work. >> unbelievable how many fundraisers both sides did in september. where were conventions be in four years? >> well, there's two things that a convention does. the first is it's the official nominating moment, and that's where these guys got wrapped up in the finance problem that they have been discussing. they weren't the nominee until the convention. the second thing which is really different but kind of the bigger thing for the electorate is it's a moment where people pay attention and focus, and there's a chance to get across in a very significant way who you are. if you remember, you know, the gore convention was a big moment. the clinton convention was an extraordinarily big moment. and so i think you could decouple those things and get that kind of tactical nominating
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thing back to the end of the primaries so it lets that process start. i kind of like the timing in terms of the kind of the big moment for -- >> [inaudible] >> yeah, you know, when you talk about what's the rhythm of a presidential campaign, you've got the vice presidential nomination, you've got the conventions, and you've got the debates. and i think to kind of have that big moment in the fall when people pay attention makes a lot her sense than to do it in june when people just aren't ready for -- >> [inaudible] beth? >> i think there's an awkward part of the campaign between the primary ending and the convention, and i think, i think it's almost -- unless the federal funding thing changes, it's inevitable that they'll go early because, and i think that's a good thing. >> you want to shrink that process. >> i want to shrink the awkward period between the primary ending and the nomination starting, and i think kicking it off in the beginning of the
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summer and getting voters refocused so that the general election isn't two months, the general election is four months is a good thing. >> jen? >> well, i think about how we use the convention. we tried to make it more than just about the people that were in the room. it was about grass roots organizing and taking it to the convention, it was about what states -- we put it in a competitive state where we had a ton of voter registration. and so from that perspective i think for them to be successful for our parties we have to build it bigger than just that room and those days for other people to feel engaged. and i think i agree from an organizing side with larry that if you have it earlier, um, for the purpose of organizing across the country it's a lot harder to do in early summer when people aren't as engaged as you need them to be. [inaudible conversations] >> no, no, i agree with these guys. and we actually got a lot out of our convention. >> more than you ever thought? >> yeah, more than we ever thought. it just came up very, very well. these guys had to deal with the same lingererring problems that they had throughout that flows from their nominating process in
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the different forces within their convention. they also had nature problems because they had a four-day convention that became a three-day convention. >> by the way, i'm not a meteorologist, by the way, but i can tell you that florida and north carolina guys are both in hurricane alley, and both of your parties i couldn't believe when you guys both -- it was inevitable that one of them was going to get dinged by a hurricane. [laughter] >> but the, but let me just say this before we wrap up. two things. one is because it's a bugaboo of mine, and i will be remiss if i don't say it to get off just the campaigns for a second, i hope that we find a way to free ourselves from the tyranny of public polling which dominated the coverage of this campaign in a way that hasn't been before. you know, two kids in keokuk do a poll, and the keokuk poll is the ap story of the day, you know? [laughter] i mean, you know, it's, it is a very, very destructive thing -- >> well, robo polling in general is what does it. >> the other thing before you go
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on to eric is i just want to repeat where i started before these guys came out which is i'm proud to sit on this platform with these guys. it's been a pleasure to be with them in these postelection discussions, and it reminds me about the fact that we may have different views, but we share a great passion for the process in the country. and so i would be remiss especially since i dragged them out here -- >> it's fun to watch these guys at this point. they're all cut from the same cloth, they just have two sets of ideologies. eric? >> i love the the pageant try of conventions. i regret post-9/11 that they now have the feel of east berlin with a lot of barbed wire and concrete barriers. >> you can't go around and see people anymore. >> right. and, of course, there is no better platform for introducing a candidate and the principles of the party. in our case we used the convention as an opportunity to
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talk about the personal side of mitt romney which people to that point thought was missing from the capable. so if you wanted to make a big splash with that, the convention is the perfect place to do that. >> matt, what are you going to tell reince priebus when he picks a window? because he's going to go first. he picks first. obviously, democrats will go last, that's the way, you know, since they've the incumbent party. are you going to tell him to go early? >> um, i am still optimistic that conventions are important, and i agree a lot of what you talked about as using them as a tool to get your activists engaged, and certainly it's an opportunity to take over tv for two or three nights. i sevenly -- i certainly believe they should be shorter in the new world we live in where people aren't accepting matching friends. i'm pretty optimistic -- >> how about earlier? >> yeah, i think they need to be earlier. but i'm still optimistic they're going to have a big impact for many, many years and be a part of the presidential campaign process. i think there's a lot of people
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right now that are kind of dumping on conventions, and will they ever even exist? they'll be one day, and i think they're an important part of the process. i'm confident chairman priebus will to the right thing. >> my bosses want to get rid of them, but i love them. so don't get rid of them. anyway, thanks to everybody here, thank you. great audience. [applause] and i apologize for everything i didn't get to. i know there's a ton we didn't get to, and i apologize for that. >> we've got five weeks to talk about it, so come back. [applause] [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] >> last week president obama issued an executive order aimed at protecting companies and the government from cyber attacks. at a symposium this morning, pentagon and security officials. live coverage at 9:45 eastern here on c-span2. and over on c-span, a conversation on national security and defense spending priorities. we'll hear from former deputy defense secretary john deutsche and former service armed services committee chairman sam nunn. live coverage from the brookings institution begins at 10 eastern.
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>> so the book concludes with lincoln attempting to get a job in zachary taylor's administration. it's a chapter called a comma at the end of the world. we're talking these days about meteors hitting the earth. well, at this time there's a talk of a meteor, a comet destroying the earth, and one of lincoln's friends is absolutely certain it's going to happen. in fact, lincoln chides him about it 12 years later when they meet again. but he's trying or very hard to get this job, commissioner of the general land office under zachary taylor, and he fails. it's a good thing he fails, right? if he's in washington, d.c. as a bureaucrat, he's not in illinois founding the republican party there, he's not the nominee for senate, he probably never becomes president. but at the time he was quite depressed when he got passed over. he went back to his hotel room, laid on the bed for an hour, couldn't move. he thought it was the end of his career. but as we all know, history had something better in store for mr. lincoln later down the road. but he ends up leaving
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washington. one term congressman, his future very much in doubt headed back toward the state of illinois almost as though nothing had happened. >> congressman abraham lincoln arrive inside washington in 1847. author chris derose on the reasons for his quick departure. saturday at 7 p.m. eastern, part of booktv this weekend on c-span2. >> now, assistant secretary of state rick barton talks about u.s. foreign policy l changes. mr. bartop leads a state -- barton leads a state department team that oversees countries in crisis. the conflict on foreign relations hosted this one hour event. >> okay. are we ready? welcome to a conversation with
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pord frederick, "rick" barton. just a few housekeeping things, please, turn off your cell phones completely so they're not even on vibrate. today's meeting is on the record. ..
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>> and he now runs, last year from last march, he was confirmed, sworn in as the head of the new state department bureau for conflict and stabilization organizations. this is an extremely new initiative and all bureaucracy, and he has one of the most challenging job descriptions i've seen in a while, to improve u.s. government effectiveness in preventing conflict and addressing crises. ambassador barton >> well, thank you very much, and thanks for the good introduction, but also for the -- all the friends that have come here today. in just about every row, there's somebody that i've had a chance to work with or work for. hattie babbitt was my boss for a while. johanna mendelson helped to found oti, the office of transition initiatives at aid, which works in the space. and i know that i've got to be
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brief because there are a lot of people out here who know more than i do, so i will try to be -- i'm looking forward to the conversation and the questions that all of you are going to offer and that claudia's going to offer as well. as she mentioned, we were created about a year ago. the bureau -- this new bureau was created as a result of the qddr process, which secretary clinton really initiated. and this is one of the most direct outgrowths, that there was a feeling that the u.s. needed to be more effective, needed to be more coherent in the conflict and crisis space. that challenge remains. what i thought i would do in the 10 minutes or so that i was invited to kind of set the table is to describe some of the internal challenges and needs that i think are really at the top of my mind after this first year and then some of the challenges that i think are most direct to the needs in the countries that we're working,
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and just give you a quick taste of that, not dwell on the changes we've made inside the bureau, because it really is not just the start-up; there was a bit of a merger as well of an existing office that we had to take over. so it was a doubly complicated transaction that we really got to this year. so i'm not going to dwell on that. happy to come back to it. and i'm probably not going to give you quite as many examples in these first critical elements because i think we'll talk about the country cases. i'm sure that each of you are going to come back to some of those as well as this goes -- as the session goes on. but really, in terms of the -- in terms of the internal needs, obviously there's a very big map of opportunity that's still out there. and just yesterday, at the senior staff meeting that we typically have on monday mornings, but because of the holiday was yesterday, secretary
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kerry finished the meeting by basically saying that there are still more failed states, not fewer; there are still more failing, not fewer; and there are still very bad rule-of-law trends. now, that all sort of falls into our basket of opportunity, i guess, so we're -- this is a job that's fraught with opportunities. and -- but the way we're trying to get at them, and i think the way to start off is just to give you quickly what i see as the internal needs, still, and i think these will ring true to many of you because you've worked in this space before. but the first one is that more focus is required. the united states isn't going to be able to do everything everywhere. we've all said that. but even when we've gone in and spent $3 million in a place or $3 trillion in a place, we've still found that we were lacking focus. and so focus is really the first place that we've started. and in our first year what we've tried to do is say that there
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are four countries that are regionally dispersed, where we've found ambassadors and embassies that were eager to take on these challenges and where we thought we could make a difference. so there are a lot of internal and external calculations, but our focus for the past year, 80% of our effort has been on syria, kenya leading up to the elections, burma and north central america, in particular honduras. that doesn't mean that we have neglected the rest of the world, but that's where 80% of our effort is. and i think that essentially that is still a challenge for the u.s. government, to focus the efforts. the second point is that we still need a center of gravity. it's still hard to find out who's driving the policy in many cases, who is in charge of the -- who's settling differences, bureaucratic differences, who's not just convening meetings but actually resolving and setting the direction for the u.s. government. that is still a need, although we've, i think, made a constructive contribution, in particular the early stages of the process, where the analysis
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-- sort of trying to bring a dispassionate perspective and several other elements are most at play. the third point that we need improvement on is that in this immediate period, the zero-to-365-day period, there's still a need for the u.s. government to be much more agile. it happens to be the most dynamic time. it happens to be the time that if you take the right step in the right direction, you're probably going to have greater influence. it's the venture capital moment, but the u.s. has a -- can still have an excessively bureaucratic process for how we deal in these places and how we get into them. and i've had fellow assistant secretaries say, look, on our best day, we'll be there in a year. and so you know the normal rotation process and other things that take place that can undermine that as well. and the fourth point, on the internal needs -- and i think it's still kind of the reform that we've -- that we're looking towards -- is that we have to
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have a conflict lens and greater conflict experts. there's a natural tendency for people who know a place to think that they should dominate the discussion -- the policy discussion. but that's only one perspective. and one of the most prominent -- one of our most prominent ambassadors who's worked -- the middle east said, look, i've worked in this bureau for 25 years, and i never had a single change of government, so now i'm having to deal with rapid and dramatic and radical change on a daily basis, and actually, i need your help; i would welcome somebody who has really worked that side of the issue. that is something that has to continue to be built upon. the unpredictability of events, the speed with which things happen is clearly still a challenge for our existing models. i'd like to then spend the last part of this on kind of the in-country places where we still need to make changes and there
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are still opportunities. the first one is that we still have to understand the context and the case much better. our analysis has to be much more objective. as you can all expect -- as you all would assume, that if we send out the refugee bureau or the anti-narcotics bureau or the counterterrorism bureau that there's a very good likelihood that the response that they're going to come back with is going to be there happens to be a problem with refugees, with narcotics or with terrorism. and so getting the broader context is really where we have to start. and if you look at many of the ways that we've gotten stuck in the last couple decades, we have really not had that agreement on what the case was and everybody has come in. and so you have the splendor of the u.s. government -- it reminds me of a van cliburn concert. the guy looks great, he's the tails, he can play the whole keyboard, but at the end, it's been -- you haven't necessarily settled on what needed to be done most.
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and the u.s. cannot afford to be van cliburn in these cases. we have to be much more focused, much more targeted. and it start with joint independent analysis that comes together and basically settles one some priorities. i happen to think that in most of these places, there usually are two or three things that you better get right or you're not going to make much progress. but if we come in and try to do 25 things, and we have pages of strategies, it's unlikely that we're going to be as well-focused as we could be. the second thing that i would like to suggest when inside of countries, is that i think we need to look much more aggressively for what we're calling silent majorities. these are the people -- vast majorities of people in almost every case that we're working in want change. they don't like the existing regime and they don't really like the predictable opposition. they -- but they are nervous about raising their voices and getting involved in the political process. in many places, you could say they're apolitical, but generally they happen to -- you can find large examples of them in women, in youth and other
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significant populations that are politically underserved and are eager to have a greater influence. so we're focusing on those, but the business community falls in that category as well. and there are endless groups of sort of nonpoliticals. the third point is that we need to go local at the very front end. it's clearly the -- there are -- in every country that we're working in right now, we find local initiatives that are likely not to succeed, but are worthy. so doesn't it make more sense to invest in that than to bring in a whole u.s. infrastructure, which we probably cannot sustain, which we're -- probably going to take us months to understand what's going on? it increases, i believe, our influence. i think we're -- it makes us -- forces us to be catalytic. it captures local talent. it makes us much more sustainable -- a lot of reasons for going local. but we've all talked about it for years, and we still don't
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produce it. the first response still is, send me 10 or 15 internationals, and even the best of us take -- you know, our -- in a new job it usually takes months to figure out what you're doing. in a new country and in a new job, it should probably be more complicated. so i think common sense would say, head in this direction. i guess the final point i'd raise -- and this is a -- i think, an important one -- in everyone of these cases, help is needed, but in almost every case, they don't really want us to take over. and so overt assistance of the kind that we're offering fits with what these places need and want, but we should be much, much more respectful of the fact that it's not ours to own. and furthermore, we don't want to own it. when we've found ourselves for 12 years in a place, we haven't really found it be a very happy experience. so i think these are -- these are some of the rules that we're kind of refining as we've gone through this first year. i'm more than happy to talk about some of the ways we're
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approaching the work in each case, because i think that will bring it to life. but since many of you are practitioners, i thought that these -- some of these points might fit with some of your own findings. and i would just say to you, people are asking me if i'm having fun -- first off, it's a -- it's an unbelievable privilege to be in this kind of a job, and it's starting to be fun. [laughter] so thank you. thank you very much, and i'm looking forward to the conversation. >> thank you very much, ambassador and assistant secretary. i won't ask if you're having fun then, but it did want to start with a general question. in selecting the for cases where you're focusing 80% of your energy, is is a science or an art that you're trying to cultivate? is a systemic approach were trying to develop, or are using what you can do by tailoring very individually each case?
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>> it's really both. and has to be, it's the result of a process of considerable consultation with people at the white house, with the assistant secretary for the regional bureaus, making sure that there's an ambassador there who really feels they need help. and so you have -- there is an internal game, and we sort of all the blocks. on the other hand, we want to be in places that really matter, that matter to the u.s., that the moment is the right moment to i should do something that will take hold and that is something we could then do as well. so that's really the criteria. and i would just give you a quick example. how to end up in syria rather than egypt, yemen and libya that were sort of on the table at the same time a year ago cracks yemen was perhaps the easiest. we could all get killed if we went in there to work, or we
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might not get out of the embassy. so it didn't seem as if it was quite as dynamic an opportunity. egypt, for a grand office in the state department, egypt was a huge ongoing operation, and we thought it would be hard to figure out, unless the ambassador said look, i want to take a review of the portfolio, which was not on the table at the time, it would be hard to figure out how we could have an influence in the case. libya already seemed that more of an international flavor with the united nations there at other cases. syria also had a positive argument because of its location between turkey and israel, because we thought of its multiple strategic attractions. there was the unpredictability of the conflict, how long would it go, and might you get caught up in sort of waiting on deck. but as it turns out in a place like syria, the united states governments rolodex, if anybody here still has a rol